If you like to watch boat racing, it’s going to be an action-packed weekend of fun and excitement on the Snake River in Burley Friday-Sunday for the 41st annual Idaho Regatta presented by Maverick.
Hotels and RV parks are filling up fast throughout the Magic Valley to accommodate thousands of spectators who will line up on the river bank to watch speed boats zoom across the river in head-to-head competition at speeds exceeding 120 mph. See video here.
“All of the major hotels in Burley are almost sold out and the RV camping site at the race site is sold out,” says Kristy Lyn Smith, Race Director of the Idaho Regatta. “We’re setting up an off-site RV camping area at the Cassia County Fairgrounds to provide more space for our spectators.”
All of the action is centered around the River’s Edge Golf Course Marina in Burley. Take exit #211 on I-84 to reach the race site. Smith is stoked about the weather forecast for the weekend races. Friday is expected to be a bit cool and windy, but for the main two days of racing, the weather is expected to be sunny and warm.
There were 68 boats registered when we spoke with Smith this week, but that number could grow during registration on Thursday. The races run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. There’s an admission fee of $20/day at the event, or you can buy a $35 weekend pass. Advance tickets cost $15/day and $30 for the weekend at Ticketbud.
Smith’s father, Glen Dilworth, was one of the early movers and shakers who started the Idaho Regatta in 1975. Another racer from Burley and Dilworth were racing all over the western United States, and they felt that the other racing venues were sub-par compared to the Snake River in Burley.
“We thought we had a better race site right here in Burley than anywhere in the whole western United States,” he says, “but we had to work with the golf course folks to see if they’d be willing to let us park cars on their driving range for the weekend.”
It all worked out and the event was born. “When we fired up the boats, everyone from town came down to watch,” Dilworth says. “And then the event grew every year. At one time, it was the biggest event in the state of Idaho.”
This year, racers in eight different boat classes will make three laps on a 1.25 mile race course in the qualifying heats, and in the final races on Sunday, they’ll make four laps. The Idaho Regatta is part of a seven-race circuit for speed boats throughout the western United States.
Here are the events lined up for the weekend:
- Thursday – Racer registration and Boat Show-N-Shine Fish Fry at Doc’s Pizza in Rupert, 6-8:30 p.m. This is an opportunity for spectators to talk to boat owners/drivers about their boats and engines. Proceeds benefit the historic Wilson Theater restoration project. $300 in prize money is at stake for the boat exhibition.
- Friday – Boat parade at 10 a.m. in Main Street Burley, starting from Smith’s Food and Drug, 937 E. Main St., Burley. There will be test driving on the Snake River and Grand Prix Shootout at 5 p.m. Folks can watch the action for no charge on Friday.
- Saturday – Racing starts at 11 a.m. Racer appreciation dinner at the golf course Saturday evening at 7 p.m.
- Sunday – Racing starts at 11 a.m. Awards banquet at 7 p.m. There will be trophies for top three finishers and the Faulkner Memorial Trophy will be combined with a $1,000 gift card.
Dilworth doesn’t plan to race this year because he’s got a separated shoulder. But he enjoys seeing how the event has grown and benefits the Southern Idaho region. “I think it’s a really good thing for Burley and all of Southern Idaho,” he says. “When I’m racing with the crew and feeding my crew, I might spend $1,000 in a weekend, and I live here. The other guys from out of town might spend $5,000 or more through the weekend, staying in hotels and eating out, etc.
“But the best thing is that all of the local people here make the racers feel like they’re home, even though they might be from Florida or California or Arizona. The racers really like the atmosphere here and the genuine small-town flavor.”
For more information, go to the Idaho Regatta web site or Facebook page. See you there!